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Arowak Indian. Credit: Pixeltheater / Adobe Stock

Amazon Fires Unite Enemy Tribes Against Bolsonaro

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The Amazon fires are uniting rival indigenous cultures against Jair Bolsonaro’s administration in Brazil.

When I was young, my brother and I battled tooth and nail with the neighbor’s boys in what was no less than a full-on teenage turf-war. However, everything changed one summer when a stronger kid moved into town. In reaction to his dominant presence, my brother and I instantly called an emergency neighborhood meeting in which it was decided that we unite with the neighbors’ boys, at least as long as this new predator walked “our” streets.

Projected onto a global scale, this scenario is precisely what is unfolding in the Amazon today as representatives of 14 indigenous Amazonian groups met in the Kubenkokre village last week to put aside their “long-running ethnic conflicts” in a show of force against Jair Bolsonaro’s failing administration.

Strength In Numbers

Only a week ago, Ancient Origins reported that Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) listed “74,155 fires across Brazil since January this year” and that they are having an impact on 400+ indigenous tribes the Amazon. It is now thought most likely that the forest fires were started deliberately with critics blaming Bolsonaro’s government for encouraging land clearing for farming, logging and mining industries.

But now, according to BBC Brazil, the new shared-aggressor is forcing rival tribes into states of new found peace. At a meeting of indigenous communities hosted by the Kayapós  group, one of the largest communities in the river basin, one of the tribal leaders, Mudjire Kayapó, told reporters “Today we have only one enemy, the Brazilian government, the president of Brazil” and the invasions of “non-indigenous people.” 

Traditionally, the Kayapós and Panara people fought violently and one of the Panara leaders said “We killed the Kayapó, the Kayapó killed us...but we didn’t know what was happening....we didn’t know about that [white] threat yet.” He added, “We will not fight anymore”.

Please… Just Leave Us Alone

Supplying 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen, the Amazon also slows down the accelerating pace of global warming and Mongabay News estimate that nearly “50,000 Amazon blazes have ignited this month alone, 89 per cent more than in August 2018 on a scale not seen since 2010”.

As scientists warn that industrial development in the Amazon will accelerate deforestation in Brazil, Bolsonaro’s struggling government and terrible economy continue to see the Amazon as a new financial resource to sort out their countries problems.

A report published in yesterday’s The Independent  quotes the Datafolha polling institute saying Bolsonaro’s poll ratings have “fallen rapidly since the Amazon fires took hold” and the number of people who think the far-right leader is doing a bad or terrible job rose to “38 per cent from 33 per cent in July.” But popularity has never been high on Bolsonaro’s agenda for only one day after his inauguration in 2018 he declared “15 per cent of Brazil’s territory is reserved for indigenous tribes” and by “integrating these citizens” value would be brought to all Brazilians.

In this particular context, the word “integration” holds dark connotations and goes against everything that the Amazon’s indigenous populations want, which is to be left alone. And with the first settlers having occupied the Amazon around 13,000 years ago, some of the ancient people living deep within the rainforest have never even heard the name “Bolsonaro” and they just want exclusion from the technologies, social diseases and smart thinking of ‘developed’ nations.

You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

As the world’s largest rainforest burns and the world look on in dismay, the Brazilian Air Force continue to spray water over the fires and their leader, Mr Bolsonaro, continues to insists that the blazes are under control. Possibly embarrassed to face the world of logic and reason himself, the 64-year-old “will not” be attending a meeting in Colombia this Friday and will tend to a hernia operation relating to his having being stabbed in the abdomen during his presidential campaign.

While Brazil’s leader promises to “discuss” the fires at the next UN General Assembly in September, the Amazonian tribes are uniting, and if the force of destruction displayed by my brother and I when we dropped arms and united with the neighbor’s boy’s is anything to go by, Bolsonaro, had better watch out, for since the time of living in caves, we humans have understood that when under attack there is no greater safety, than in numbers.

Top image: Arowak Indian. Credit: Pixeltheater / Adobe Stock

By Ashley Cowie

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Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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